Leticia McCormack, a one-time elder and ministry worker, has been arrested and charged with murder and several other crimes related to the death of her 11-year-old adopted daughter, Arabella, just months after her husband died by suicide.
A release from the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said the 49-year-old McCormack was arrested Monday, along with her parents, Stanley Tom, 75, and Adella Tom, 70.
Along with murder, McCormack, a former church elder at Rock Church in San Diego, California, was charged with three counts of torture and three counts of willful cruelty to a child. Her mother was charged with three counts each of torture and willful cruelty to a child, while her father was charged with murder and similar counts of torture and willful cruelty to a child.
The arrests come after months of investigation by the police, who first responded to a call about a child in distress at a home in Spring Valley on Aug. 30. Detectives who responded to the call suspected possible child abuse in the home and Arabella was rushed to a local hospital where she died.
Arabella’s younger sisters, ages 6 and 7, were also removed from the home and placed in foster care.
When Brian McCormack was contacted by police about his adopted daughter’s death, officials say he fatally shot himself inside his truck near the home.
Family members and neighbors told NBC 7 that Arabella and her sisters moved in with their adoptive parents in 2017, and their adoptions were finalized a couple of years later.
“The safety of our children is of paramount importance to the Sheriff’s Department. We respond to all reports alleging child abuse and neglect,” the police statement reads. “Conducting an accurate investigation is a long and tedious process. Gathering evidence and conducting interviews must be done methodically while protecting the children and preserving the rights of parents and family members.”
In a statement to NBC 7, the Rock Church said they “hope for justice” for the sisters and made it clear that they have no “official relationship with Leticia.”
“We have received notice that Leticia and her parents have been arrested as a result of the Sheriff's Department investigation. We continue to grieve for Arabella and her sisters. We are so sorry that their family and friends are experiencing this unimaginable loss and pain,” the church's statement said.
“We send our deepest condolences to all that are grieving at this time. Our hearts go out to each of them. The legal process will run its course and we hope justice for Arabella and her sisters will be served. We are praying that God’s love and grace will bring comfort and healing. The Rock no longer has any official relationship with Leticia. Her ordination at Rock Church was previously suspended and is in the process of being revoked.”